Nutritional Therapist and Health Coach, Fiona Hayers offers advice to help your children back to school/college for the start of the new term.

With the start of a new school year only a short time away, is the prospect of getting everyone up and out of the door in time is filling you with fear?  You are not alone.

Many children have spent the last 5 weeks or so weeks going to bed in the early hours and waking up at lunch time.  The transition back to a school day routine can be difficult and can not only lead to tension but can also have an impact the ability to focus during the first couple of weeks of term.

I have put together a few ideas which may help to transform your night owl into a morning lark and bring more harmony each morning.

1 – Bedtime

If possible, gradually encourage an earlier bedtime each evening.  I find tools such as ‘screen time’ limits on phones or switching the internet off can be used to help encourage an earlier bedtime.

Remember that 14-17 year olds are recommended between 8-10 hours sleep with between 9-11 hours for younger children.

Tip – you may need also to adjust your own bedtime!

2 – Regular mealtimes

Establishing a meal time routine by preparing meals at the same times each day can help regulate sleep and improve energy levels.  So even if your child wakes up at midday try to provide lunch at lunch time rather than opt for breakfast cereals.

Tip – aim to have dinner together and use this time to reconnect.  You could play a game after eating to help get their brains active again, card games and Rummikub are amongst our favourites.

3 – Nutritious food

Many children may have spent the last few weeks mindlessly snacking on high sugar, low nutrient food.  Increasing the amount of lean protein, fish or protein and adding in some healthful fats such as avocado, eggs, nuts or seeds in meals will help to balance energy and improve ability to focus and pay attention in school.

Tip – make some delicious healthier snacks to offer as alternatives to toast, crisps and biscuits.  Options could include energy balls made with nuts & seeds, flapjacks containing seeds and nut butter or houmous with vegetable sticks.

4 – Look after yourself

During the first couple of weeks of school it is likely that everyone will be tired and perhaps a little short in temper than normal.  Try to make sure you prioritise getting enough sleep, eating regular meals and getting some exercise outside.  This will really help increase your tolerance, so you can give your children quality time when they get home from school.

5 – Planning

Make time to plan out the first couple of weeks of term helping to create a calm environment.  This could include:

  • Weekly meal plan and some batch cooked family favourite meals ready to heat up.
  • Afterschool snacks – children are likely to be ravenous when they finish school as they will be very active and using their brains all day.
  • Packed lunches – you can even start to make some lunches for the following day in the evening to get back into the habit
  • Scheduling activities and meetings so that where possible you are around with no distractions when the children arrive home from school.

A final word is to recognise that any step you take, large or small will help create a smoother transition so why not give at least one of the ideas above a go.

If you see me walking the dog half asleep over the next few mornings you will know I have been setting my alarm in preparation!

Good luck to you all.


photo: Oleksandr Pidvalnyi: